“Hi, new friend!” The woman’s words, coming over the phone, caught me off guard and nearly brought tears to my eyes. Don’t get me wrong. I have some great friends who would do just about anything for me. But I was touched by the possibility of a new friend — a woman who shares my journey of having a son with special needs.
The emergence of a new friend does not in any way minimize the faithful friends who contribute to my life in significant ways (I’ve written about them here and here.) But the older I’ve gotten, the less I’ve felt a need to foster new relationships. Maybe you know what I mean. Your steady friends feel like enough, and it seems like it takes too much energy to make new ones.
Consider a few benefits of making new friends:
A new friend can offer fresh perspective. Maybe you just moved, started a new job or are experiencing a significant change in your life or circumstances. A new friend can provide a fresh perspective as you journey into a new season. Proverbs 27:17 (ESV) says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” There are times in life where God may provide you a new “sharpener” in the form of a new friend. The woman I mentioned at the beginning of this post is helping me navigate services for my son. Her personal experience (and being a few steps ahead on this journey) allows her to offer me unique, much-needed encouragement and support.
A new friend may turn out to be your best friend. This has happened to me several times in my life. My best female friend was once a new friend. Similarly, seven years ago, my husband, Kevin, was a new friend. When you make friends with someone new, you never know how close of a friend he or she may become. If you close yourself off to new friendships, you may miss out.
A new friend can brighten up your life. There’s something really fun and exciting about making new friends. Think of the last time you discovered a kindred spirit or someone you just clicked with. There’s a rush of excitement and even giddiness that can come with discovering camaraderie with someone new. As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself… ’” Leaving room in your life for new relationships opens up opportunities for joy and greater connection.
My encounter with a new friend made me realize how lazy I’ve been when it comes to developing new relationships. That brings me to my final point: Be a new friend. That woman who greeted me with, “Hi, new friend!” will probably never know how much her words meant to me. But she was ready to offer her friendship to someone who needed it.
As the old song goes, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” As the song suggests, both types of friends are valuable. So be faithful to your existing friends, but leave space in your life for new ones. You never know how valuable those relationships may prove to be.